Syria: 24 killed in attacks four days before cease-fire (VIDEO)


Turkish riot policemen spray teargas on Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad's supporters in front of the Istanbul Congress Center where the "Group of Friends of the Syrian People" meeting is held, in Istanbul, on April 1, 2012. Fighting has continued in Syria as of April 6, 2012, just four days before a cease-fire that Assad agreed to is meant to take effect.



Syrian troops continued to shell cities and villages and use tanks and snipers against rebels in the capital's suburbs on Friday, said the Associated Press, just four days before an international sponsored cease-fire is supposed to take effect.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu also announced that he had telephoned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express his alarm at the continuing influx of Syrian refugees and increasing Syrian government military attacks near the border, according to The New York Times.

Reuters reported that at least 24 Syrians were killed in the violence, according to opposition activists. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 people had died from shelling in Homs. Several civilians and soldiers were also reported killed in clashes in Anadan, north of Aleppo, according to the Observatory.

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The Times also said refugees were providing uncorroborated accounts of massacres in Idlib province "including visual evidence of a mass grave."

According to a peace deal brokered by Kofi Annan, who represented the United Nations and the Arab League, and agreed upon by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, all fighting must stop at 6 a.m. on April 12.

While Assad's opponents have accused the military of intensifying assaults in the days leading up to the cease-fire, the Assad government has made the same claim. In a letter to the UN on Friday, it said, "In recent days terrorist acts committed by armed groups in Syria have escalated, especially since an understanding was reached on Kofi Annan's plan," according to Reuters.

Syrian activists said government forces have broadened their offensive in the capital's suburbs of Douma, Saqba, Arbeen and Dumair, according to the AP. The Observatory also said tens of thousands of protesters marched in towns across the country, calling for the toppling of Assad's regime.

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CNN noted that there were also factional fights between armed Assad loyalists and rebels, highlighting the divisions in the country. Syria is a nation with a  Sunni majority, governed by an Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Syrian government has said it will stick by the peace plan, and its ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, blamed the violence on the opposition being armed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, refugees have been pouring into neighboring Turkey, with 2,500 crossing the border on Thursday alone, said the AP. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country would seek the UN's help if the influx continued. He said, "These developments are seriously worrying us."

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Here is amateur video footage of the violence, courtesy of Voice of America: